Timor Leste have been banned by the AFC from the Asian Cup and will be fighting only to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
The build-up to the next FIFA World Cup in 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023 has already begun with the draws for qualifying rounds recently taking place. The fixtures for the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 were announced at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The fixtures unveiled quite a few intriguing clashes especially between Malaysia against Timor-Leste, Cambodia against Pakistan and between Bhutan and Guam. Brunei Darussalam, who had earlier slumped to a defeat to Chinese Taipei will now face a stronger opponent in Mongolia.
Here’s the draw results. Who will advance to the Round 2? Tell us!
⭕️ First-leg: June 6, 2019
⭕️ Second-leg: June 11, 2019. pic.twitter.com/JXy1Pmfhcr
— #AsianCup2023 (@afcasiancup) April 17, 2019
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will once again return to face Macau, after the two teams had met in 2016 during the AFC Solidarity Cup. The two island nations will lock horns especially as their previous tie resulted in a 1-1 draw, meaning Macau ended up as runners-up in the competition behind Nepal.
Cambodia and Malaysia, on the other hand, have drawn relatively easier fixtures with Pakistan and Timor-Leste respectively. The Malayan Tigers had defeated the Timor-Lestians during the previous edition in the group stages and will now be all set to achieve the feat all over once again.
The East Timor, though, won’t be able to qualify for the Asian Cup whatsoever since the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee hailed them ineligible to participate. The ruling has been in effect since 2017 when the side had fielded some ineligible players in the tournament.
One of the best teams in the lot, Guam will face Bhutan in their upcoming fixture and have a lot to prove, considering their huge potential. Currently ranked 193rd, Guam have already defeated the likes of big teams such as India and Turkmenistan in the process and Bhutan will be hoping they manage to overcome them somehow.
Now that the fixtures have been announced, the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 is all set to commence, with the first leg matches being played on June 6 and the return leg to take place in the following week on June 11.
The winners of these six fixtures will see themselves among the top 34 teams from the Asian continent in the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2, which is believed to start in the month of September.